Social Movements in the Global South

July 4 - 6, 2017
2.00 - 4.00 pm

Social movements originate in particular historical contexts, grounded in human agency and shaped by the structural conditions in which they emerge. This social history course will examine social movements in contemporary South Africa.  South Africans having a long history of organizing, particularly in opposition to apartheid.  Efforts to end apartheid and usher in democracy emanated from the trade union movement, a multitude of liberation movements, civil society organizations, and global movements against the National Party Government.  Since democratic elections in 1994, a range of organizations have mobilized to hold the ANC Government accountable and try to force it to live up to its election promises and the expectations that democracy heralded.  In this course, we will explore the nature of these social movements, focusing on their strategies, successes, and failures. We will also examine the responses of a government built on the backs of a liberation movement and on these wide-ranging movements.  We will consider such questions as: When and why do social movements gain momentum? How should we measure their impacts? When and why do they fade?

Karin Shapiro studies American social and southern history, as well as South African history. Her interest in the political economy of race and coerced labor in both societies led she to examine a dramatic Gilded Age labor rebellion in the Tennessee coalfields against the use of convict workers, the subject of her first book, A New South Rebellion: The Battle against Convict Labor in the Tennessee Coalfields, 1871-1896 (UNC Press, 1998). She also co-edited, along with scholars from the University of the Witwatersrand’s History Workshop and the Radical History Review, History from South Africa:Alternative Visions and Practices (Temple University Press, 1991). This volume, though now dated, brought both more nuanced radical interpretations of South African history and provided an exposure of History Workshop historians to a wide range of American historians who sought deeper historical understandings of that country’s democratic revolution. Committed to reaching audiences beyond a scholarly community, Shapiro co-produced two films – one on South Africans in North Carolina (2005) and one on the international Fulbright program (2011) – and curated exhibits on Nelson Mandela (2008) and Jewish history and life in Durham, North Carolina (2013)